The Other Side

Written by: Mohid Moosani

“If it weren’t for these crosswords, we would have gone mad by now!”  said Alina taking a beetle nut out of her pan-dan and placing it between her silver beetle nut cracker.

Shakra laughed, “Mad? Aren’t we mad already? Two ladies in their seventies! playing crosswords? In this terrace for the last 30 years? On the same damn rusted iron chairs?” as she spoke her voice first showed signs of anger and frustration and then a sudden drop in the pitch as though something had sucked up all her energy leaving her unable to speak anymore. Not even with her eyes.

Alina grabbed the whiskey pint from under the table, it was a cheap looking brown bottle with a half misprinted paper sticker that read, “lucky 79” She opened the cap and sipped a mouthful. Took another sip, this time smaller, then passed it to Shakra.

“Come on! 70 year old lady! make yourself of some use now, go make us drinks. Half part orange juice for me! “,
Shakra looked at Alina and smiled, as if the heaviness in her heart had now been lifted.

“Okay, I exaggerated a bit, I’m 68” Shakra said walking towards the mini bar.

“Oh darling your age changes with your mood! Last night you were sixteen” Alina winks.

Shakra hands Alina her drink and sits in her lap, Alina starts gently rubbing her palm on Shakra’s thigh.
Shakra leans on to reach Alina’s neck and starts kissing it slowly.

Shakra then in a soft voice says, “Remember when we used to go bird watching at the garden after school? I always wished to have wings like the birds so that I could fly, now I just wanna fall”

Alina is bothered by what she just heard. “Yes! But you are scaring me with all this”

“Fear is just an emotion dear,” Shakra says in a low voice, almost whispering, then she adds, “what do you fear when sooner or later we’re all gonna die? “.

“Yes but I want you live, there’s no me without you” Alina says this in the most agitated tone Shakra had ever heard since their childhood.

“But death is not something bad or good. It’s a universal law, otherwise God wouldn’t give us such pain ever. You know being a deist has taught me something, our farewell from this world would be transcendence to another, transcendence to a form of existence that is sheer ecstasy and I would be happier there. We don’t really ever die Alina, and you know what will make me happy? Falling. The comfort of not wanting to fly for a moment”, Shakra tried explain it to Alina in the calmest manner she could.

Alina stands up, walks to the bedroom and locks the door. A few minutes later as the Maghrib call for prayer starts, Shakra knocks the door and says, “I’ve kept a note outside love”.

Alina does not respond. After five hours, she does open the door but only to get her blood pressure medicine from the kitchen cabinet. On her way back to the room she notices a piece of paper by the bed room door. Its blank so she picks it up and turns it over, it read,

“I’m falling, see you on the other side”


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